Parliament’s Presiding Officers have called on all South Africans to participate in the public consultation process to strengthen the current draft legislation dealing with gender-based violence.
The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services called for comment on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill; the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill and the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill earlier this month.
Comment on the three bills is invited until 9 October 2020.
Cabinet approved the three bills in August 2020 for tabling in parliament.
According to the cabinet statement, the bills respond to a number of issues raised during the Presidential Summit Against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide held in 2018 in respect of the criminal justice system.
The amendments provide a victim-centred response in the criminal justice system to sexual offences.
Cabinet also indicated that bail conditions for perpetrators of sexual offences will be tightened and warrants of arrest will no longer be a requirement prior to law-enforcement agencies responding to reported sexual crimes.
Parole conditions are also strengthened and minimum sentences increased.
The amendments also strengthen the consequences of contravening a protection order.
“We urge all South Africans to put their heads together and contribute to this process to ensure that we have a watertight legislative framework that will close all gaps in current laws and reinforce the hand of our criminal justice system to decisively break the back of the scourge of gender-based violence in our country. Perpetrators of gender-based violence must have no place to hide, they must be squeezed out of our society and the full might of the law must come down hard on them,” stressed National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, and National Council of Provinces Chairperson, Amos Masondo.
The Presiding Officers also urged “public representatives, including male leaders in society, to exercise caution in their public utterances and conduct particularly in relation to the welfare or issues of women, girls and the elderly”.